Portugal and Spain were ruled by Catholic monarchs. Very religious. The Catholic monarchs wanted to force the Muslims out of Europe. (They still held part of Spain.) Wanted to convert them to Christianity.
The Muslims controlled North Africa and Mediterranean trade. If the Portuguese and Spanish could sail to the Indian Ocean directly, they could get goods from China and the Muslims couldn’t stop them. The way to Asia was the sea route around Africa.
The Europeans wanted slaves
When the Portuguese explored West Africa (15th century), they sent back the first slaves (around 1480).
The Spanish conquered the New World (Mexico, Peru, etc.). (Columbus had made several trips for Queen Isabella I of Spain.)
In America (the name for the New World), they needed slaves. Most slaves were sent to America.
Indians died from diseases of white men. They were also killed in the wars. There was nobody to run the mines (gold and silver).
Sugar plantations of the Caribbean (and Brazil) needed labor. Cotton plantations in the south of U.S. also. It was hard work and nobody wanted to do it.
15 million (maybe as many as 40 million) slaves were brought to work the plantations starting in 1502 until
J mid-19th century.
Immigration (why white people didn’t come)
They couldn’t take the climate.
There were a lot of tropical diseases.
The Europeans didn’t want to live in Africa, only run it.
Only the Dutch settlers came. They set up the Boer states in South Africa. After them came British settlers.
Frenchmen (some) settled in Algeria.
Some English also moved to Rhodesia.
1. Whites began exploring into the interior. (Will discuss
exploration next week.)
Copying notes during a lecture is difficult, and even a good set of notes can be greatly improved by being rewritten. Following is a rewriting of these notes. Note how much clearer everything becomes.
Rewritten Good Notes
Early European Contact with Africa History 200
What Drew Europeans to Africa?
There were medieval legends that there was a lot of gold in West Africa. Access to the gold was controlled by non-Christian powers (Muslims—believers in Islamic religion). Tales of gold lured the Portuguese (led by Prince Henry) to explore the coast of West Africa in the late 15th century. By the 16th century, the Portuguese had built several trading posts and forts along the West African coast and were bringing back gold, ivory, and pepper.
By the 17th century, English, Dutch, French, and Spanish ships challenged the Portuguese trading monopoly and set up their own trading posts. This was the beginning of rivalry between European countries over the wealth of Africa.
Desire to weaken the power of the Islamic Empire (Muslims), and expand trade with Asia
Conflict between Christianity and Islam was an old religious conflict (the Crusades as an example in 11th and 12th centuries). The Muslims controlled North Africa and the Mediterranean. They also controlled the spice trade from Asia. Spices were important in Europe because they were the only known way to preserve meat.
The Catholic states of Portugal and Spain wanted to fight with the Muslims. They wanted to drive them out of Spain and challenge the large Muslim empire in Africa,
the Middle East, and Asia. They hoped to convert them to Christianity. The Muslims were strong in North Africa, but if European powers could discover a way around Africa into the Indian Ocean, they could outflank the Muslims and obtain direct access to the trade with India and Asia.
Portuguese trading posts in Africa had sent a small number of slaves to Europe starting in the late 15th century. With the discovery and conquest of America in the 16th century, a new and larger slave trade began to European colonies in the New World (America).
The native Indians of America died off (they were killed in war and by European diseases). There was a shortage of labor. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the mines of Latin America needed workers. Large sugar plantations were set up in the Caribbean and Brazil and cotton plantations in the southern United States. The need for laborers to do the hard agricultural work led to the importing of millions of slaves from Africa. Somewhere between 15 and 40 million Africans were sent to America as slaves between 1502 and the mid-19th century. This slave trade made Africa valuable to the European powers.
The Colonization of Africa
Because of the unsatisfactory climate and tropical diseases, there was no major European immigration to Africa. The only significant white colony was in South Africa by the Boers (Dutch) and later the English. There were smaller European settlements in Rhodesia (English) and Algeria (French).
Dividing up the continent
If you reread the poor notes now, you can easily see how little of the lecture material is recorded in them and how confusing and even erroneous a picture you get from them. What is there about the poor notes that makes them inferior?
First, they are not organized. They do not even record the title of the lecture, the course number, or the date. If these notes get
out of order, they will be useless. In fact, they are almost useless anyway. They are nothing more than a series of sentences about gold, trade, spices, Portugal, and slaves. The sentences are not in any particular order, and they do not say anything important. Even the factual information does not cover the major points of the lecture. Instead, it is peripheral information about sea monsters, China, Jerusalem, Bartholomew Diaz, and Columbus, most of which the good note taker wisely omitted. By paying too much attention to trivial points, moreover, the poor note taker missed or did not have time to record the principal theme of the lecture— the relationship between European-Asian trade and the religious struggle between Islam and Christianity. The poor note taker also missed another major point—the connection between the enslavement of Africans and the need for plantation labor in the New World. Without these two points, this student cannot write a good exam on this subject.
The good notes, on the other hand, follow the organization of the lecture and touch upon the major points made in class. The notes make sense and can serve as the basis for reviewing the content of the lecture when studying for exams.
These notes are not crowded, but well spaced so that material and emphasis can be added later if necessary. They also have a wide margin for extra comments and the marking of important passages. (Note the emphasis on B.4 and C.5.) The instructor had emphasized these points in class, and by making special note of them,the good student will be sure to master them.
The rewritten version, which eliminates certain unimportant or repetitious phrases and smoothes the language into connected sentences, is even better as a study guide. The greatest value of rewriting, however, is that by recreating the lecture material in essay form, it becomes part of the note taker’s own thinking. The mental effort that goes into revising lecture notes serves to impress the material and its meaning upon the mind. This makes it much easier to review the material at exam time.
Notes on Slides and Films. Some instructors present slide lectures or show films. Note taking in these instances involves special problems. If a lecture is accompanied by slides, you will need to include in your notes information as to what the slides illustrated (for example, the Pyramid of Cheops, the novels of Willa Cather,
the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the dances of Martha Graham) and anything of importance your instructor said about the slides.
Taking notes on films presents some unusual problems. The lighting will be dim. The greatest problem may be the film itself. In our culture, films are a medium of entertainment rather than education. Your natural response will be to sit back and relax your mind. You must fight this response and learn to probe a film as you would a lecture. If a film is essentially factual (Walled Cities of the Middle Ages),note the major facts and interpretations as you would in a lecture. If a film is dramatic rather than documentary (Ivan the Terrible, Citizen Kane),examine the emotional message and artistic content as well as any historical facts it describes (or claims to describe). As with the author of a book, you need to ask: What is the movie director trying to say, and what dramatic and technical devices does he or she use to say it? Your notes should record important narration and dialogue that illustrate the theme of the film. More importantly, you will need to take note of pictorial elements (camera angle, sets, lighting, gestures and movements, facial expressions) because the core of a dramatic film and its impact are essentially visual. It takes practice to learn to take notes on slides and films. It will be worth the effort because photographs and films are used increasingly in history courses.
Many instructors encourage class participation, and some base a portion of the grade on it. Here are a few pointers for improving your ability to participate in class discussions.
Giving a Formal Class Talk
If a course involves an oral presentation in class, you must learn something about this type of assignment. Eloquence and effectiveness in public speaking cannot be mastered in a week or two, but you can make a start by taking such an assignment seriously and adequately preparing yourself for it. Reading from a prepared text is often the safest procedure, but this can lead to a dull presentation. If you speak from notes, you will have to be fully familiar with your subject and pay more attention to getting your points across. Nevertheless, this kind of presentation will probably be livelier and more enjoyable for the class. You should prepare your talk outline as you would that of a short paper (see pages 53—54). Be sure that you cover all the important points and that you present them in a logical manner. A dry run before a relative, friend, or roommate is recommended. Be sure that you exhibit a knowledge of your subject because this is most likely to determine your grade. Effective public speaking is one of the most important tools of success in many fields of work, and giving a talk in class is a good opportunity to develop your skills in this area.3
How to Study for and Take an Exam, and How to Write a Book Review or Short Paper
Exams: How to Study for Them
When a test is announced, be sure to find out what kind of an exam it will be: essay, short answer, multiple choice, etc. Determine what topics will be covered and what portions of the reading material and lectures deal with the topics. If you have not done all of the necessary reading, do so immediately and record the important facts and interpretations as indicated in the section on “How to Read a History Assignment.” (See pages 16-23.) If you have missed any lectures, obtain a copy of the notes from someone who knows the rules of good note taking. Now gather together all the materials to be covered in the exam. Reread the parts of the texts that you underlined (or otherwise noted) as being important. Reread all of the relevant lecture notes, paying special attention to any points emphasized by the instructor. Sometimes it helps to do your rereading aloud.
If the test is to be an essay exam, compose sample questions based upon the important topics and themes contained in the readings and lectures. (Many textbooks contain sample exam questions or topics for discussion at the end of each chapter.) If you do not know how to answer any portion of the sample question, go over your study materials again and look for the information needed. If you are preparing for an objective exam—that is, one requiring short answers—you must pay special attention to the important facts (persons, places, events, changes) in your study materials. You must be precise in order to get credit for your answer. Make a list of the outstanding people, events, and historical developments, and be sure that you can adequately identify them and explain their importance. (Again, your text may help you by providing sample short-answer questions.)
Take the time you need to prepare adequately. If tests make you nervous, the best medicine is to go into the exam confident that you know the material. Keep on studying until you have mastered your sample questions and until the material to be covered makes sense to you.
Taking Essay Exams
Even if you have prepared properly for an essay exam, your problems are not over. You must stay calm enough to remember what you studied, you must understand the questions, you must answer them directly and fully, and you must not run out of time. None of this is easy, but here are a few pointers to follow until you gain the experience to overcome these problems.
When you are given the exam, don’t panic. Read the entire exam slowly, including all of the instructions. Gauge the amount of time you will need to answer each question. Then choose the question you know most about to answer first.
Don’t write the first thing that comes to your mind. Read the question slowly, and be sure you understand it.
Determine how you will answer the question and the central points you wish to make.
Write these central points or even a full outline in the margin of the exam booklet, and as you compose each sentence of your answer, make sure that it relates to one of these points.
Your answer must follow the question. Be as specific or general, as concrete or reflective, as the question suggests. Never allow your answer to wander away from the focus of the question. If the question asks you to “describe” or “trace” or “compare” or “explain,” be sure that that is what you do.
Don’t repeat yourself. Each sentence should add new material or advance a line of argument.
Where necessary, refer to the facts that support the points you are making. You must also give evidence that you have thought about the question in broad terms. The mere relation of a series of facts will rarely earn you a high grade.
Toward the end of your answer, you may wish to include your own opinion. This is fine, even desirable, but be sure that your answer as a whole supports this opinion.
Always reread and correct an answer after it is finished. The pressure of an exam can often cause you to write sentences that are not clear.
Write legibly, or your grader will be in no mood to give you the benefit of any doubts.
Don’t write cute or plaintive notes on the exam. They seldom raise a grade and may prejudice the grader against you.
A well-written essay answer is a combination of (1) adequate knowledge of the subject, (2) clear thinking about the points to be covered, (3) well-structured sentences, and (4) complete understanding of the question. Following are two answers to a sample essay question on modern Chinese history. The first answer is very well written and deals successfully with the four requirements listed. The second answer is very poor and meets none of these requirements.
Question: Discuss the origins of the Chinese Civil War of 1945— 1949. How did the differing political programs of the two contenders affect the outcome of that conflict?
The origins of the 1945-1949 Civil War can be traced back to the rise of Chinese nationalism in the late nine-teenth century. Out of the confusion of the Warlord period that followed the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1911, two powerful nationalist movements arose—one reformist and the other revolutionary. The reformist movement was the Kuomintang (KMT), founded by Sun Yat-sen. It was based on a mixture of republican, Christian, and moderate socialist ideals and inspired by opposition to foreign domination. The revolutionary movement was that of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), founded in 1921, whose goal was a communist society but whose immediate program was to organize the working class to protect its interests and to work for the removal of foreign “imperialist” control.
Although these two movements shared certain immediate goals (suppression of the Warlords and resistance to foreign influence), they eventually fell out over such questions as land reform, relations with the Soviet Union, the role of the working class, and the internal structure of the KMT. (The CCP operated within the framework of the more powerful KMT during the 1920s.)
By the 1930s, when Chiang Kai-shek succeeded Sun, the CCP was forced out of the KMT. By that time the CCP had turned to a program of peasant revolution inspired by Mao Tse-tung. A four-year military struggle (1930-1934) between the two movements for control of the peasantry of Kiangsi Province ended in the defeat but not destruction of the CCP.
The Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931) and central China (1936-1938) helped salvage the fortunes of the CCP. By carrying out an active guerrilla resistance against the Japanese, in contrast to the more passive role of the KMT (which was saving its army for a future battle with the Communists), the CCP gained the leading position in the nationalist cause.
In the post-World War II period, the CCP’s land reform program won strong peasant support, whereas the landlord-backed KMT was faced with runaway corruption and inflation, which eroded its middle-class following. The military struggle between 1945 and1949 led to the defeat of the demoralized KMT army and the coming to power of the CCP.
The Kuomintang had a stronger army than the Communists, but the Communists won the civil war and took over the country. Their political program, communism, was liked by the peasants because they didn’t own any land and paid high taxes.
China was based on the Confucian system, which was very rigid and led to the Manchu dynasty being overthrown. The Chinese didn’t like being dominated by foreigners, and Sun Yat-sen founded the Kuomintang to unite China. He believed in the Three People’s Principles. At first he cooperated with the Chinese Communists, but later Chiang Kai-shek tried to destroy communism because he was against it. Communism was not in favor of the wealthy people.
The Communists wanted a revolution of the peasants and gave them land. They also killed the landlords. Chiang Kai-shek worried more about the Communists than about the Japanese invasion. The Japanese looked to conquer China and make it a part of their empire. Chiang Kai-shek wanted to fight the Communists first.
After World War II the Chinese Communists attacked Manchuria and took over a lot of weapons. They fought the KMT army. The KMT army lost the battles, and Chiang Kai-shek was chased to Taiwan, where he made a new government. Thfe Communists set up their own country, and their capital was Peking. That way the Communists won the Chinese Civil War.
Let’s see the differences between the poor and the well-written essays in regard to each of the four requirements for a well-written answer.
the CCP only as the Chinese Communists, leaving the impression that they were a loose grouping of like-minded individuals rather than a strong, well-disciplined political organization. It does not even mention the name of the most famous leader of the CCP— Mao Tse-tung. Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the KMT, is mentioned, but there is no mention of his political program or beliefs, other than that he was opposed to communism. Another serious defect is the lack of chronology. The answer jumps back and forth between earlier and later periods, and no dates are given for major events.
The well-written answer illustrates a good knowledge of the subject matter. The origins, philosophies, leaders, and relationship of the two contending parties are clearly described. This answer brings in related issues such as nationalism, Warlords, guerrilla warfare against Japan, corruption, and inflation, thus indicating a broader knowledge of the historical context in which the Chinese Civil War developed. The chronology is very clear, with events proceeding in proper time sequence and with all major events identified by date.
Clear thinking about the points to be covered. The poor answer is not organized. Note that the paragraphs do not make separate points and that each succeeding paragraph does not further develop the theme of the essay. Paragraph one is a conclusion rather than an introduction. The second paragraph goes back to the founding of the KMT, but instead of discussing the origins of the hostility between it and the CCP, it merely states that hostility came into existence. The third paragraph begins by introducing the CCP (though not by name). However, it does not expand on the CCP’s programs and points of conflict with the KMT, but instead abruptly changes the focus of events and the time frame by introducing the Japanese invasion of China, which the last sentence of the paragraph only vaguely relates to the question. The last paragraph, instead of drawing conclusions about the causes of the Communist victory in the Civil War, merely states that it occurred.
The well-written answer, on the other hand, uses each paragraph to make a separate important point, and each succeeding paragraph further develops the theme of the essay. Paragraph one sets out the political programs of the two groups and the historical context in which the movements originated. The second paragraph
explains the beginning of the conflict in the 1920s. Paragraph three discusses that conflict in relation to the Chinese peasantry during the early 1930s. The fourth paragraph discusses the development of the conflict in relation to the Japanese invasion of the late 1930s. The final paragraph summarizes the effects of the conflicts and of postwar developments on the outcome of the Civil War.
Well-structured sentences.Many sentences in the poor answer are badly constructed either because they are awkward or because what they say adds nothing to the answer. Some of the awkward phrases are “the Communists won the Civil War and took overthe country”; “communism was liked bythe peasants”; “China was based onthe Confucian system”; “communism was not in favor ofthe wealthy people”; “the Japanese looked toconquer China”; “the Communists set up their own country.”These phrases cause the sentences to be unclear, and they keep the student from getting his or her point across. The other major defect in sentence structure is repetitious or irrelevant sentences and phrases. These are “Chiang Kai-shek tried to destroy communism because he was against it”;“they fought the KMT army”; “that way the Communists won the Chinese Civil War.”The sentences of the well-written answer, on the other hand, are clear, and each adds new material to the essay.
Complete understanding of the question.The poor answer does not deal with the central issue of the question—the political programs of the KMT and the CCP. It notes that the KMT was founded on the Three People’s Principles, but it does not explain what these were. Of the CCP, it says that there was a belief in communism (which is obvious) and peasant revolution (which is vague). These are the only references to political programs in the entire answer! It is obvious that the writer of this answer failed to understand that the central focus of the question was on political philosophy.
The well-written answer is directed to the central issue of political programs and begins on that very point. The remainder of the answer makes clear the relationship of political programs to the origins and course of the Chinese Civil War as called for in the first sentence of the question.
Here is another good answer to an essay question. Note how it meets the four requirements set out above.Describe Russian expansion across Siberia. What factors facilitated this expansion? How did it compare with the expansion of the United States across North America?
Russian expansion to the east began in the sixteenth century from the area around Moscow, which had become the center of a powerful state under Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584). Eastern expansion was spearheaded by the Cossacks, who were in most instances former peasants who had fled to the frontiers of the Russian state to avoid serfdom. There they became shepherds, hunters, and expert horsemen. Some joined robber bands and preyed on commerce. Eventually they took up arms in service to the Russian nobility and fought against the Siberian Tatars, Moslem peoples who raided Russia from across the Ural Mountains. In a series of wars against the Tatars, Cossack forces fought and marched across northern Eurasia, covering a distance even greater than that across the United States, and reached the Pacific Ocean before the middle of the seventeenth century.
This vast territory was conquered in a brief period of time because of several favorable conditions. In a wide band of territory stretching eastward, the climate was similar to that of European Russia. Within this forested zone there were no major natural obstacles. The mountains were low and the rivers navigable. The native population was small and no powerful tribes existed. None had armaments equal to those of the Cossacks.
There are several similarities between Russian and United States continental expansion. The great extent of the two expansions is similar, as is the influence of the frontier experience on both cultures. Continental expansion in both cases engulfed (and often destroyed) weaker native peoples and incorporated their lands into the expanding nation rather than holding them as colonies. In both cases an important economic incentive was the fur trade and the ability of trappers to use the extensive river systems to send their pelts to market.
In some respects, however, the expansionist experiences were different. The Russian advance was much more rapid than the American. Cossacks began to push eastward about the same time (late sixteenth century) as the first English settlers came to America. By the mid-seventeenth century, however, the Russians had reached the Pacific Ocean while the settlers in North America had yet to cross the Appalachian Mountains. Although the Russian advance was swift, settlement of the land was sparse compared to the slower American expansion. In 1763, all across the newly conquered expanse of Siberia there were only 400,000 Russians. At about the same date, the much smaller territory of the thirteen English colonies in North America contained about 1.7 million settlers.
The two expansions were similar in scope and in the nature of the nativeforces encountered. They were, however, different in content. Siberia is to this day a rather backward, isolated, and thinly populated region of the Soviet Union, whereas the lands that lie beyond the early eastern settlements of the United States today hold the greater part of the population and economic resources of the nation.
Objective exams call for short factual answers. The questions may be multiple-choice, true-false, or definitions and identifications. If a simple choice is called for, think carefully about the alternatives before choosing. Read the question very carefully and don’t jump to conclusions. If definitions or identifications are called for, answer briefly and directly. If you know only part of an answer, put that down, but don’t add unrelated material just to make your answer look more impressive. You will be wasting your time. Moreover, don’t try to change the question into one that you cananswer. You won’t get credit for an answer to a question that was not asked.
Here are some sample exam questions.
Short Answer Question:What were the motives that caused Eu
ropean powers to explore Africa beginning in the late fifteenth century?
They wanted to dominate Africa and get all the gold for themselves. Columbus wanted to take the slaves from Africa, but the Pope said it would start a war. But the war didn’t start and the Europeans dominated Africa.
The wars between Christianity and Islam were an important factor. The Christian states wanted to weaken the
hold of the Muslim religion in Africa and to convert the natives. They also hoped to break Muslim control of trade with Asia by finding a sea route around Africa.
Check these two answers against the example of good note taking on pages 30—33, and you will see why the second answer is satisfactory while the first is not.
Based on your reading of this book so far, answer the following objective-exam questions.
Identification Question: Progressive School of historical inter
(Check your answer against the definition on page 13.)
True-False Question: The Japanese invasion of Manchuria
in 1931 destroyed the Chinese Communist Party.
Multiple-Choice Question: The founder of the Kuomintang Party
in China was:
(Check your answers against the good exam essay on pages 39-41.)
A take-home exam is usually a series of short essays. The construction of your answers should generally follow the procedure for writing a short paper. (See pages 53-54.) There are, however, a few specific guides to this type of assignment.
Prepare your answer by outlining those portions of the textbook or collateral readings that deal with the exam question. Then list the most important points covered in these sources—generally two to six for each question. Compose your answer by discussing each
of these points in some logical order. As with all essays, it is best to have a central theme.
A problem that sometimes arises with take-home exams is plagiarism. In such an exam, it is usually permissible to paraphrase the sources used in preparing your answer. Be sure, however, that you write in your own words. If you use sentences from a book in your answer, you are cheating, whether you mean to or not. Copying from a text or history work is unlikely to get you anywhere. Your instructor knows that experienced historians write quite differently from students, and passages taken from such a source will jump out of the page as your paper is being read. Most instructors penalize students severely for plagiarizing. (See section on plagiarism, pages 76-79.)
A book review is an essay whose purpose is to comment on a particular work or a series of works bearing upon a single subject. The most important point to remember about a book review is that it is a commentary, not merely a summary. Unless your instructor specifically requests that you survey the contents, a book review should spend little time outlining the material covered by the author. The bulk of your report should be an evaluation of the way the author handled the subject, and a commentary on the book’s contribution to your understanding of the issues discussed. Your review should discuss the author’s theme and point of view, as well as your reaction to them; evaluate the author’s methodology (rules for organizing evidence); discuss the author’s values and biases; and draw conclusions as to how well the author's point comes across.
It may be necessary to refer to specific portions of the book to illustrate your statements and conclusions, but it is generally not advisable to quote from it. If you know something of the author’s other works, it is appropriate for you to make these a part of your critical evaluation. When you are reviewing several works on a common subject, it is also appropriate to devote a portion of your paper to a comparison of their use of evidence, their success in supporting their themes, and their respective conclusions.
The form of a book review is similar to that of any essay. You should begin by making a list of points you wish to make. If more than two or three works are involved, do not discuss each one
separately. Choose aspects of the subject that are general enough to cover all of them, and then compare the books from those particular perspectives. There is no need to give an accounting of the contents of each book.
Once your list of central points has been compiled, you should take each one as the focus of a different section of your review. (Don’t try to make more points than can be accomplished in a brief book review. It is better to make a few points well than many points poorly.) Each section of your review should explain the point, support it with your own arguments and with brief examples from the book(s) under review, and then draw conclusions as to the meaning and importance of the point.
Because a book review is generally brief, come to the point directly and confine yourself to a small number of supporting examples. It should be clear to the instructor not only that you have read the book(s) but also that you have thought about what you have read and have used your own experience and critical faculties in formulating your comments.
To help you to see these rules and suggestions in practice, here is an example of a book review of the work you are now reading.